Saudi Arabia to reform kafala worker sponsorship system in 2021

News Network
October 28, 2020

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Riyadh, Oct 28: Saudi Arabia plans to cancel a foreign worker sponsorship system, known as kafala, and replace it with a new form of contract between employers and employees, the financial newspaper Maaal said on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

Saudi Arabia, which this year is chairing the Group of 20 major economies (G20), seeks to boost the private sector - and make it more attractive to foreign talent - under an ambitious plan to diversify its oil-based economy.

The kafala system, which Maaal said has been in place for seven decades in Saudi, generally binds a migrant worker to one employer. Rights groups criticise the system and say it leaves workers vulnerable to exploitation.

"The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development intends next week to announce a new initiative that improves the contractual relationship between employers and expatriate workers," the Maaal report said.

The initiative will be implemented in the first half of 2021, it added, without giving further details.

Currently more than 10 million foreign workers live in Saudi Arabia under the kafala system that requires them to be sponsored by a Saudi employer and be issued an exit/re-entry visa whenever they want to leave the country.

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Agencies
November 21,2020

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Hathras, Nov 21: A civil rights body on Saturday claimed that members of the Hathras rape victim's family are living in conditions akin to house arrest and they fear for their lives once the CRPF cover given to them is withdrawn.

The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) also released a report on the state of investigation into the case. The organisation demanded security for the family and their rehabilitation through the Nirbhaya fund.

The whole family is in a way under house arrest conditions and their normal social life has been cut off, PUCL members Kamal Singh, Farman Naqvi, Alok, Shashikant and K B Maurya told reporters in Lucknow.

The victim's family members fear for their lives after the CRPF protection is withdrawn, they said.

The PUCL members said cases must be lodged against officials for a hurried cremation of the victim.

Action should be taken against District Magistrate Praveen Kumar, SP Vikram Veer and the area SHO in this regard, they said.

The 19-year-old Dalit woman died at a Delhi hospital a fortnight after her alleged rape by four men from her village in Hathras district on September 14.

She was cremated in the middle of the night in her village. Her family members claimed that the cremation, which took place well past midnight, was without their consent and they were not allowed to bring home the body one last time.

The PUCL members said action should also be taken against those responsible for defaming the woman's family.

They demanded that cases lodged for the alleged bid to incite violence in the name of the incident should be brought under the ongoing CBI investigation. Currently, these cases are being probed by the state STF, they said.

Alok and Farman Naqvi alleged that the name of the Popular Front of India (PFI) has been dragged into the controversy to create a Hindu-Muslim chasm and divert attention.

Kamal Singh said the PFI is not on the list of banned organisations but Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath calls it an extremist body.

If that is so, then why a ban has not been imposed against it, he asked.

Four people, said to be members of the PFI, were arrested in Mathura while on their way to Hathras last months.

The Uttar Pradesh police had said the four, including a journalist, had links with the Popular Front of India.

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Agencies
November 21,2020

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New Delhi, Nov 21: Overt and covert ideologies are seeking to segment India on an imagined criteria of "us and them", former vice president Hamid Ansari said on Friday, asserting that even before COVID-19, society became a victim of two other pandemics -- religiosity and strident nationalism.

Ansari said that as against religiosity and strident nationalism, patriotism is a more positive concept as it is defensive both militarily and culturally.

Speaking at the virtual launch of senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor's book 'The Battle of Belonging', Ansari said that in a short space of four years, India has made a long journey from its founding vision of civic nationalism to a new political imagery of cultural nationalism that appears to be firmly embedded in the public realm.

The former vice president said that "there is a passionate plea for an ideal of India (in the book), an India that was taken for granted by our generation" and now is seemingly endangered by "overt and covert ideas and ideologies that seek to segment it on imagined criteria of us and them".

"Hitherto, our core values were summed up as an existential reality of a plural society, a democratic polity and a secular state structure. These were accepted in the freedom movement, they were incorporated in the Constitution and encapsulated in the preamble of the Constitution," said Ansari, who was vice president from 2007-2017.

The plurality of Indian society is evident from the sociological evidence of 4,635 communities, he said, adding that every fifth Indian belongs to a recognised religious minority.

It is this diverse mass that a new ideology is seeking to homogenise supposedly on the basis of a faith premised on an "imaginary history", he said.

"The COVID-19 as a pandemic is bad enough, but before it our society became a victim of two other pandemics -- religiosity and strident nationalism. Religiosity is defined as extreme religious ardour, denoting exaggerated embodiment, involvement or zeal for certain aspects of religious activity enforced through social and even governmental pressure," he said.

Much has also been written about the perils of strident nationalism and it has been called an "ideological poison" that has no hesitation in transcending and transgressing individual rights, Ansari said.

"Records world over show that it at times takes the form of hatred as a tonic that inspires vengeance as a mass ideology. Some of it can be witnessed in our own land," he said.

Ansari asserted that patriotism is a more positive concept as it is defensive both militarily and culturally and inspires nobel sentiments, but must not be allowed to run amok.

In the book published by Aleph Book Company, Tharoor makes a stinging critique of the Hindutva doctrine and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which he says is a challenge to, arguably, the most fundamental aspect of Indianness.

He has asserted that Hindutva is a political doctrine and not a religious one.

Speaking at the event, Tharoor said that the BJP has spent its last six years in government contesting the idea of India by arguing that there can be an alternative idea of India.

During the discussion on the book, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah said,"We had the opportunity of joining Pakistan in 1947, it was my father and the others who felt that the two nation theory is not for us."

Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs or Christians are not different as they are all human beings and thus "we chose (Mahatma) Gandhi's India, (Jawaharlal) Nehru's India, an India that belong to everyone", Abdullah said.

"That's how I felt till this government came in. They think that only a Hindu can be an Indian and all the others who are there cannot be Indians, they are second class citizens. This I am never going to accept till my dying day," he said.

"My belief is that this is for all of us, this is our motherland, we grew in it, we were educated in it, we have developed in it, our families live here, our ancestors are buried here, this is as good for me as it is for any Hindu. Today we are being divided, divided on religion, on caste on creed on language," the National Conference leader said.

"Tyrants come and tyrants go, nations continue to survive and I am confident that his nation will survive, these dividers will go," he said.

Also part of the discussion, Professor Makarand R Paranjape argued that there was not one idea of India, but many that were being hotly contested.

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News Network
November 29,2020

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New Delhi, Nov 29: Pakistan cricket has landed in fresh turmoil after a woman accused its captain Babar Azam of sexual abuse. The woman, whose name is not known, revealed that Babar exploited her for 10 years and gave her false marriage hopes, while making some unpleasant claims. The woman claimed that Babar got her pregnant and threatened her. The video of the woman addressing a press conference was shared by journalist Saj Sadiq.

“He promised to marry me, he got me pregnant, he beat me up, he threatened me and he used me,” the woman was quoted as saying.

“I have known Babar since the time he had nothing to do with cricket. He was from a poor household. I hope all my brothers and sisters here are going to help me get justice so that no daughter gets to go through what I have. Babar and I have grown up in the same colony, we used to stay together.”

The woman further stated that she and Babar have known each other from their school days and it was in 2010 that he proposed to her.

“He was my school friend. In 2010, he proposed to me and I accepted his proposal. He in fact proposed to me after coming to my house. As time progressed, our understanding got better. We had planned to get married and informed our families too but they refused,” she added.

“Then Babar and I decided to have a court marriage. In 2011, Babar and I eloped and having promised me of marriage, kept me at rented places. During that time, I kept asking him to get married but he said ‘we are not in a position to. With time, we will get married’.”

It was further revealed that the woman used to take care of all their expenses, including the money Babar needed for his cricket. However, in 2016 when the lady got pregnant is when she sensed a huge change in the cricketer’s attitude.

The PCB is yet to respond to these claims. Babar and the rest of the Pakistan team are currently in New Zealand, undergoing a 14-day quarantine period in Christchurch. Seven members of the team have tested positive for Covid-19 and have been moved to a separate floor.

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